Ertharin Cousin, Former US Ambassador and World Food Programme Director, Joins Stanford as Visiting Scholar

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WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin speaks to a little boy in the Central African Republic during her visit in late March 2014. Photo: WFP

Stanford welcomes Cousin, a global hunger expert, to the Center on Food Security and the Environment.

The Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) at Stanford University is pleased to announce that former U.S. Ambassador and World Food Programme (WFP) Director Ertharin Cousin will serve as this year’s Frank E. and Arthur W. Payne Distinguished Lecturer and Visiting Fellow at the Center on Food Security and the Environment (FSE).  

Cousin brings over 25 years of experience addressing hunger and food security strategies on both a national and international scale. As U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture, she focused on advocating for longer-term solutions to food insecurity and hunger, and at WFP she addressed the challenges of food insecurity in conflict situations.

“Dr. Cousin’s outstanding leadership at the WFP and extensive experience in public service exemplifies the attributes we seek for Payne Lecturers,” says FSI Director Michael McFaul. The Payne Distinguished Lectureship is awarded to scholars with international reputations as leaders, with an emphasis on visionary thinking, practical problem solving, and the capacity to clearly articulate an important perspective on the global political and social situation. Past Payne Lecturers include Bill Gates, Nobel Laureate Mohamed El Baradei, UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot, and novelist Ian McEwan.

As a visiting fellow with FSE, Cousin will be working to further her research focus on global food security and humanitarian efforts. In November 2015, FSE welcomed Cousin as the featured speaker in their Food and Nutrition Symposium series, where she presented her paper “Achieving food security and nutrition for the furthest behind in an era of conflict and climate change.” FSE Director, Roz Naylor, sees Cousin’s appointment as a pivotal opportunity for FSE and FSI to advance a global agenda on food security and human rights. “Ertharin Cousin is one of the most inspirational leaders we could ever hope to attract to Stanford as a year-long visitor,” Naylor says.

“This is a truly humbling, yet exciting prospect,” says Cousin. “This position provides an opportunity for scholarly work and dialogue with distinguished academics across Stanford's schools and policy institutes.  I also look forward to the opportunity to convene thought leaders from a broad variety of backgrounds, who can help us explore some of the intractable issues plaguing humanitarian and development practitioners today.”

Following the completion of her term with the WFP, Cousin accepted an appointment as a Distinguished Fellow with The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, which conducts research on food and agriculture, global cities, economics, energy, immigration, security, public opinion, and water. Cousin hopes her appointments can provide a unique collaborative opportunity to expand her work on food security and nutrition issues.

“In my career I have never before been given the opportunity of pursuing intellectual inspiration. Just thinking about the ‘what’s possible’ gives me genuine pleasure,” Cousin said.

About FSE

The Center on Food Security and the Environment (FSE) is a research center at Stanford University, jointly funded by the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.